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Jamal Khashoggi’s death ignites social media discussion about free speech

Posted by James Zhang

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi challenges the Trump administration’s foreign policy toward U.S. Middle Eastern ally Saudi Arabia. Since the killing itself is very much contradictory to the value that the U.S. has been holding and living up to: freedom of the press. The murder case also raises the public’s awareness of free press and it generates a large volume of online discussion on social media within the United States.


Overall, the volume of posts from Twitter, mainstream news media and Facebook eclipsed 166,000. Over the past seven days, from October 17 to 24, the online conversation carried on social media platforms reached to its peak on October 19, when the apparent killing of the Saudi dissident journalist caused an international outrage on Saudi Arabia ruling elites. Particularly, almost 40,000 social media posts had been circulated on different platforms that day.

In terms of who is leading the conversation on social media, the first two top influencers are news media Observer and Newsy. In addition, several individuals also have significant impacts on social media conversation regarding the killing.

Overall, the majority of social media users within the U.S. expressed negativity towards the murder of Khashoggi. Specifically, one Facebook users shared information stating that President Trump has called Saudi Arabia’s handling of the death of journalist the “worst cover up” over the course of history. Another user even called off for EU sanctions on Saudi political elites due to killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The case is conflicting with the fundamental belief of free press that the U.S. has been cherishing and practicing. With the rising of the public’s skepticism of the case, it is foreseeable to predict that American public will continue discuss the case as long as there is no clear solution to resolve the puzzle of killing.